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"Diving In" to July 2019 with the Coral Chronicles!

Updated: Jul 24, 2019


For the past 7 years, volunteer divers from the Georgia Aquarium have been coming down to join us for a week of hands on restoration work both within our nurseries and out on the reef. This year we had two overlapping groups spend the week of the 17th of June with some of our amazing Coral Crew members and colleagues at Keys Divers, and boy did we get a lot of work done!


The first group, consisting of parents and their kids, started their trip with a tour of the nursery to see the numerous sections that comprise this unique underwater “forest”. They then spent a lot of time helping us clean our elkhorn production area, and we were grateful to have over 25 of our trees receiving some solid brush and chisel action! After our nursery work, we hopped over to North Dry Rocks to add to our NOAA elkhorn transect by planting 60 corals back onto the reef. The team rewarded themselves for their hard work with a trip to Key Largo Dry Rocks to snap some family photos with the famous Christ of the Abyss statue (and also see some healthy elkhorn and staghorn colonies)!

“The best part of this program was getting to see the reactions of the kids after they came up from their outplanting dive. They were so overjoyed and amazed by what they had done and it is hopefully a memory they will keep for the rest of their lives and continue to share with others. Getting youth involved in restoration and to care about our oceans is one of the many things we can do to help make a positive difference for our future.”

- Laurel Bicker


The second GAAQ group was an all adult group of previous and new participants who don’t mess around when it comes to restoration work. While half of the group group focused on cleaning up some staghorn trees, the other half speed harvested 380 elkhorn coral fragments in two dives! Following in the footsteps of the previous group we headed over to North Dry Rocks and, in just a dive and a half, all of these fragments were returned to the reef. This is arguably an outplanting record for Dive Programs at CRF™!


The two groups from Georgia Aquarium absolutely rocked it and at the end of the week were responsible for bringing 440 corals back to North Dry Rocks, furthering the work that was started during Coralpalooza™. We want to take a moment to thank these amazing, hard working, and enthusiastic individuals for taking the time out of their busy lives to come down to visit with us for a week.

The work we do could not be accomplished without your help and we can’t wait to see you again soon!



Dive programs are an immersive hands-on experience that offers people a chance to dive into the world of coral restoration and make a direct impact. We have recently undergone some amazing changes within our Dive Program department that are now allowing us to further expand the work we do. We are excited to announce that these programs have recently met outplanting protocols that are specifically contributing to our NOAA- affiliated staghorn and elkhorn outplanting numbers!


On July 25th and 26th, a group of high schoolers from Ocean Matters joined us in the water to help restore the Florida Reef Tract and obtained their PADI Coral Restoration Distinctive Speciality. Ocean Matters is a 501(3)c nonprofit organization that brings students to endangered marine ecosystems for SCUBA related service learning projects to help address the various problems facing our oceans!

Photo credit: Kerriann Fitzpatrick

After a morning filled with hands-on training and educational presentations, they headed out to the nursery to do two tanks of nursery cleaning while our Dive Program and Volunteer Coordinator, Roxane Boonstra, and our Dive Program intern, JD Reinbott, harvested 290 elkhorn coral fragments to ouplant the next day. The students were able to help reduce a lot of biofouling on the trees within our gene bank and also had a visit from a curious octopus who calls the nursery home.


The coral fragments had a “slumber party or sleep-over” at Horizon Divers in water bins with bubblers, fans and plenty of shade for the night. The next afternoon, they were transported to North Dry Rocks (NDR), which is one of our eight NOAA outplanting sites in the Keys. Shortly thereafter, all 290 corals found themselves back on the reef, which completed our NOAA elkhorn transects and overall site for 2019; on the way back to the dock, students were thrilled to learn they had such a direct role in completing the site! After outplanting was finished, the students had the chance to take a tour to observe some of our other outplants that call NDR home and see the direct result of the work they just did! In just over a month, roughly 1,500 corals were put back on this site alone.


One of the biggest takeaways from this program was that one of those 290 corals was the 100,000th coral returned to the reef since CRF™ first started its restoration efforts!

It is truly amazing to see what can be accomplished when people work together. These programs are a perfect example of the large scale, massive action required to help restore our beautiful reefs.


We hope to have more students from Ocean Matters find their way back down to the Keys in the future to help us accomplish even more restoration work and to also visit their corals at North Dry Rocks!!!


"Diving In" Editorial Intern

JD graduated from the University of New England with a B.S. in Marine Science and Aquaculture/Aquarium Science. During his time as a student, he partook in a coral biology travel course to Ambergris Caye, Belize where he quickly discovered his passion for reef systems. He soon found himself traveling back down to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef to live at a remote dive base for two months where he studied coral population abundance as well as predation, disease, and bleaching metrics. In order to continue fostering his newfound passion for reefs and diving, he quickly became both a certified PADI Divemaster and the Dive Program Intern with us here at the Coral Restoration Foundation™. He is beyond excited to be sharing his passion with the numerous individuals who partake in these immersive experiences and not only continue to help return corals to the reef but also help create stewards for these vital ecosystems.

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